Parliament is all set to witness the polling for the next President — a clash between NDA's pick Ram Nath Kovind and Congress' Meira Kumar — on Monday, the first day of the monsoon session.
The voting for the next President of India began at 10 AM and will continue till 5 PM.
A total of 32 polling stations — one in Parliament House and one each in the State Legislative Assemblies — have been set up, officials said. The Election Commission has appointed 33 observers who are overseeing the conduct of the election. While two observers are present in Parliament House, one each is deployed in the respective state assemblies.
The results will be declared on July 20 in New Delhi.
The electorate, comprising elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members and members of State Assemblies, is tilted in favour of the NDA, but the opposition is working to seek the support of some regional parties in favour of their candidate.
Both Kovind, former Bihar governor, and Kumar, former Lok Sabha Speaker, have held a series of meetings across states to mobilise support for their candidature.
The tenure of Pranab Mukherjee, the 13th President of India, ends on July 24.
The electoral college, which elects the President through the system of proportional representation, comprises MPs and members of state legislative assemblies.
A total of 4,896 voters -- 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs -- are eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of states with the legislative council are not part of the electoral college.
While the Lok Sabha speaker, an elected member, can vote, the two nominated members in the Lower House from the Anglo- Indian community cannot. The 12 nominated members in the Rajya Sabha are also ineligible.
Since the election is through a secret ballot, the parties cannot issue a whip to their members to vote for a particular candidate.
Thirteen vacancies in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies will be filled up after the Presidential elections. The NDA, led by the BJP, has 5,37,683 votes, including the Shiv Sena, and the shortage is around 12,000 votes.
In the 2012 elections, Pranab Mukherjee garnered 7,13,763 votes, while Pratibha Patil secured 6,38,116 votes before that in 2007. Both Mukherjee and Patil were Congress nominees.
The Election Commission has barred MPs and MLAs from carrying their personal pens inside the voting chamber. They will have to mark their ballot with specially designed marker pens.
BJP President Amit Shah on earlier announced that the current Governor of Bihar, Ram Nath Kovind will be the NDA's nominee for the post of President. Kovind, currently the governor of Bihar is also the President of the All-India Koli Samaj.
From his student days, he is known to be a crusader for the voices of backward classes of the society and has served as the President of the BJP Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002. An advocate by profession, he was a Rajya Sabha member from the state of Uttar Pradesh during the two terms of 1994-2000 and 2000-2006.
The Opposition parties announced that Meira Kumar, the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha who also served as the Cabinet Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment in the UPA 1, would be their Presidential candidate
Meira Kumar, 72, is a Patna-born lawyer and former diplomat. She studied at Delhi University's Indraprastha College and Miranda House, and her parents were former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram and freedom fighter Indrani Devi.
(With inputs from PTI)